Sheryl Slocum


Sheryl Slocum lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she teaches English as a second language and ESL teaching methods. On the side, she edits, gives private ESL lessons, and leads poetry writing/reading workshops. Themes that appear in her work often relate to insights gained as a church member, a mother of three (now grown) children, and a former Peace Corps and Roman Catholic Relief volunteer in Chad, Africa, and Lumberton, New Mexico. Raised in the West and on the East Coast, living much of her married life in the South, Sheryl has been a Wisconsinite since 1991. A former member of the Root River Poets in Racine, she is now a member of the Hartford Avenue Poets in Milwaukee.

Sheryl’s work has appeared in small press venues since the mid-1980s. Her poems have won several prizes and honorable mentions. They can be read in the Hartford Avenue Poets’ anthology, Masquerades and Misdemeanors (Pebblebrook Press, 2013). For Sheryl, her most satisfying publications are those actually read by friends and peers: The Wisconsin Academy Review, The Anglican Theological Review and The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar.


On the Great Vigil

On the evening of
            the Great Vigil
the sun set at the end
            of our street,
and the neighborhood
            went up in flame.

As I walked the dog into
           the conflagration,
I was busy thinking
            of my daughter,
pale with her white tee shirt
            and red hair,
standing like a candle beside
            our old friend’s bed,
orange sun blazing behind her.
            Our friend turned

his eyes from death just once
           to recognize her,
but not to know her name.
            Perhaps he saw her
as the taper lighting new fire
            for the dark place
he was about to traverse.

            The sun set. 
The dog and I turned back,
            chill creeping
up our legs as we passed
a community of cinders
            while my daughter,
tears glistening in the first headlights,
            drove home.

Originally published in Anglican Theological
, Winter 2011


A sudden swirl of gabble, flutter,
    chatter, preen, and cluck
makes my yard into someone
    else’s conversation.
No stone goes unturned, no
    topic unpecked.
Even the dead rabbit I never
    mentioned to the kids
gets flipped and flopped about
    like last week’s gossip.
The children are alarmed,
    then amazed.
Better not to tell them this is me
    twenty years from now,
descending with cronies enroute
    to Florida or Arizona,
pinching the grandkids,
    noting with magpie eye
the looks that pass or don’t pass   
    between husband and wife.
Instead, I say, “It’s the flocking instinct.”
    “Winter’s coming.”
“They feel it in their bones and gather
    before flying south.”
Instinctively, I flex knees and elbows,
    crick my neck to peer
at the sky, continue the old seesaw
    bargain with Time.

Originally published in the Poets' Calendar, 2006